The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Keen Elsa Review

A top recommendation for wearing everyday in moderate temperatures and conditions.
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Price:  $130 List | $63.99 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Cute, stylish, lightweight, versatile fit, decent traction
Cons:  Cold, not waterproof
Manufacturer:   Keen Footwear
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 25, 2018
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • Warmth - 20% 3
  • Weather Protection - 20% 4
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Traction - 15% 6
  • Style - 10% 9

The Skinny

Cute and functional! The Keen Elsa is a favorite amongst our testers for its flattering and versatile design. Crafted with 100-grams of Keen insulation, this is not the warmest boot tested and was left at home when temperatures went below freezing. The synthetic outer is water-resistant, but certainly not waterproof. Despite these performance flaws, our testers love this boot for its lightweight and stylish design. It was a favorite for wearing to work, out with friends, and walking the dog. Its breathable design makes it perfect for sporting both inside and outside — day in and day out.

Product Updated Since Testing
Keen has released the Elsa II! Read on to learn about the differences between the two boots.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Elsa II vs. the Elsa


Keen has released the Elsa II, the successor of the Elsa. The boot has received a material overhaul, as well as some different hardware and color changes. It keeps the same $130 price point. See the Elsa II below, left, followed by the Elsa we previously tested on right.

  • Material Update — The Elsa II is available now in either a quilted or wool outer, contrasted to its predecessor's canvas upper.
  • Eyelets — The top two eyelets on the boot are now D-ring style.
  • Fresh Color Options — Keen freshened up their colorways on the Elsa II. You can see one option in the comparison photo above, on the left.

We have purchased a pair of the Elsa II for review, but in the meantime, the following review refers to the original Elsa boot.

Hands-On Review of the Elsa


The Elsa is a perfect wear everyday boot with a variety of colors and design to choose from! It's a favorite of our testers thanks to its incredible level of comfort and lightweight construct.

This around town shoe is perfect for everyday wear.
This around town shoe is perfect for everyday wear.

Warmth


The Elsa features a rubber outsole and an insulated, fleece-lined upper shaft. While this boot provides warmth in temperatures hovering around zero, we weren't psyched to be wearing it when the mercury dropped into double negative digits. Outfitted with 100-grams of Keen insulation, this boot is not meant to provide warmth in super cold weather. Wear it in mild weather, but switch it out for a warmer boot when the temperatures plummet.

During our tests, we noticed that heat readily escaped from the uninsulated rubber outsole. The sole on this boot is also thin. If you are searching for a warmer boot, be sure to check out the Sorel Joan of Arctic, our Top Pick for Severe Weather.

The 100-grams of insulation is warm to freezing temperatures.
The 100-grams of insulation is warm to freezing temperatures.

Weather Protection


The lower rubber outsole is waterproof, and the 8-inch shaft provides decent protection from taller snow drifts. Unfortunately the upper is water-resistant at best. During our water tests, this synthetic textile took roughly five seconds before flooding the interior of the boot. While it is passable in puddles and slush on the street, the fabric will become saturated if exposed to truly wet conditions. As a result of this poor water performance, it only scores a four out of ten. Take it with you while you walk around town, and through shallow puddles, but avoid it when it's super wet outside.

If you want a boot with lots of weather protection, check out our Top Pick for Winter Chores, the Sorel Caribou, which boasts a waterproof leather upper and thick insulation. While this model isn't nearly as cute as the Keen, it sure is more weatherproof. If you seek a cute winter boot with decent waterproofing, look into The North Face Shellista II Mid featuring a leather shaft and excellent protection from both water and snow.

While this boot is cute  it's not the most water resistant. That said  it does well in snow and the outsole is waterproof.
While this boot is cute, it's not the most water resistant. That said, it does well in snow and the outsole is waterproof.

Comfort & Fit


We love this boot for all-day, everyday wear! The fleece-lined interior is cozy while the boot provides a versatile fit. The forefoot is wider, accommodating both narrow and wide footed females. Thick and thin socks are well accommodated with a high volume inside the boot. Its shaft is flexible, making it easy to walk around in all day.

While it has comfortable features, our testers mentioned that the fit isn't super precise, though not sloppy either. The footbed isn't particularly cushioned and it does not offer arch support. But the shoe is true to fit, so no need to size up. If you seek a winter boot that can be worn both inside and out, all day long, the Elsa is an excellent option as it is also breathable. Alternatively, the Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat offers a more narrow fit and a super cozy interior with a flexible boot shaft.

This boot is cozy and comfortable with a wooly lining that extends throughout the shaft of the boot.
This boot is cozy and comfortable with a wooly lining that extends throughout the shaft of the boot.

Ease of Use


Simply pull on, lace up, and take off. While this boot still requires you to lace it up to get outside, the one pull system makes it easy. The collar offers lots of room, so you don't need to grasp the side of the boot when putting your foot inside.

The two convenient pull tabs, similar to those found in the Keen Durand Polar, make getting this boot on easy. If you prefer a boot that you don't need to lace up, check out the Kamik Momentum. Overall, given its lightweight nature, it's easy to wear all day long.

Just pull once and the boot stays on.
Just pull once and the boot stays on.

Traction


The various lug styles and directions extend the versatility of this boot from just around-town wear to light hiking. We are happy to report that this rubber outsole and tread pattern did a decent job in our traction tests. We hiked it over soft and deep snow, packed ice and snow, and steeper terrain.

The Elsa earned a six out of ten in our traction category.
The Elsa earned a six out of ten in our traction category.

While it didn't grip the trail like the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat, the best performer in our traction tests, it can certainly be used for light hiking on local trails. While it can't grip ice (none of the contenders could), it does a decent job in snowy conditions. Wear it around town or on your next short winter hike.

This traction pattern is great for around-town wear and light hiking.
This traction pattern is great for around-town wear and light hiking.

Style


A favorite amongst our testers, this boot is super cute and received many compliments. Despite its low performance in other metrics, this was a favorite for everyday wear simply because it compliments a variety of different outfits for a great winter look. Because it doesn't have a faux-fur collar, it can be worn both under and over pants, or with a cute skirt.

We chose this boot to wear while commuting and working all day long. While it doesn't have a multi-colored faux-fur collar, like the Sorel Tofino II, it is certainly stylish.

A look at the cute and simple style of the Elsa.
A look at the cute and simple style of the Elsa.

This boot has a huge assortment of colors and designs to choose from that can suit any women's winter wardrobe.

Best Applications


While the Elsa was a go-to for everyday wear, we also think it's a decent option for light and short hikes on local trails. Wear it while you walk your dog, head out with friends, commute to work, or go out for dinner. The boot is fairly breathable making it a great option to wear throughout the day.

Although not the warmest boot in our review  this product provides enough warmth for milder snowy days.
Although not the warmest boot in our review, this product provides enough warmth for milder snowy days.

Value


At just $130, this product is a great value if you want a cute boot for a mild climate if you're looking for serious winter protection, not so much. If you live in climates that aren't super wet or don't dip down into the double negatives, it can be worn all day. We didn't notice any durability issues throughout our testing period. That said, there are boots that perform better in warmth and weather protection for less. For example, check out the Columbia Ice Maiden II, our Best Buy winner for just $80.

Conclusion


The Elsa is a great everyday wear boot that can be worn both inside and out. While it's only got 100-grams of insulation, it's limited by its warmth and weather protection. However, it was one of our testers favorite for its comfortable and versatile design that had us choosing it to wear day in and day out.

The Elsa is super cute  lightweight  and a favorite for all-day wear.
The Elsa is super cute, lightweight, and a favorite for all-day wear.


Amber King